WBEZ | Illinois US Senator Mark Kirk http://www.wbez.org/tags/illinois-us-senator-mark-kirk Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Sen. Kirk heads home from rehab center http://www.wbez.org/news/sen-kirk-heads-home-rehab-center-98785 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Sen. Kirk_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is moving back home after suffering a stroke in January.</p><p>Kirk's office released a statement Thursday at the request of his family that said the senator has "progressed to the point where he can move home with his family." Kirk has been recovering at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago since his stroke, and his family said he'd continue to go back there for out-patient care.</p><p>"We are grateful for the wonderful doctors and personnel at the RIC for their care of Mark, and to the residents of Illinois who have given him privacy and time to heal. We also thank everyone who has shared their prayers and wishes for his return to the U.S. Senate as soon as possible," the statement said.</p><p>Kirk had part of his skull removed following the stroke.</p><p>Those who have spoken to Sen. Kirk have said he's mentally sharp and sounds normal. His counterpart, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, has said Kirk has made terrific progress and the two have joked a bit. Durbin recently responded to criticism that Kirk has yet to be seen publicly.</p><p>"Give him a break. Come on," Durbin said. "The man is working his way back through rehabilitation, and he wants tsome time to get the strength and get back to where he can meet the press. This is not an easy experience."</p><p>Durbin said he had no doubt that Kirk would return to his work in the Senate.</p></p> Thu, 03 May 2012 16:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sen-kirk-heads-home-rehab-center-98785 FEMA denies aid for storm-ravaged southern Illinois http://www.wbez.org/story/fema-denies-aid-storm-ravaged-southern-illinois-97206 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-12/AP120229148693.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois' senators and Gov. Pat Quinn are denouncing a decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deny disaster aid to southern Illinois counties ravaged by tornadoes.</p><p>A powerful Feb. 29 tornado left seven people dead in the&nbsp;southern Illinois community of Harrisburg, and hundreds of homes destroyed across the region. Quinn's office had&nbsp;sought a major disaster declaration for the state and assistance&nbsp;for several southern counties. In denying the request, FEMA said&nbsp;the damage was not "beyond the capabilities of the State, affected&nbsp;local governments and voluntary agencies."</p><p>Gov. Quinn released a statement Sunday in response to FEMA's decision, saying he was "extremely disappointed."</p><p>"After personally surveying the damage and talking to many residents who lost their homes, I firmly believe federal assistance is crucial to help them begin the recovery process," the statement said. The governor's office has 30 days to submit an appeal to FEMA.</p><p>Sen. Dick Durbin told Illinois Public Radio&nbsp;the lack of federal funds will make it tough on local government, businesses and individuals affected by the storms.</p><p>"Without the federal designation, there are limited opportunities for federal help. And take a look at what's happening here with our own state treasury. There's a limited opportunity there to compensate for these losses," he said. "I have just never seen worse devastation, and I find it hard to imagine that it didn't qualify."</p><p>Sens. Durbin and Mark Kirk said Sunday they have&nbsp;requested a meeting with FEMA leadership and would seek to overturn&nbsp;the ruling.</p></p> Mon, 12 Mar 2012 10:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/fema-denies-aid-storm-ravaged-southern-illinois-97206 Doctor says Sen. Mark Kirk making progress http://www.wbez.org/story/doctor-says-sen-mark-kirk-making-progress-95895 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-21/Mark Kirk_Getty_File.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is doing well, according to his doctor. Kirk suffered a stroke last weekend and has undergone two surgeries to relieve swelling in his brain.</p><p>Dr. Richard Fessler is a neurosurgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Dr. Fessler provided the following update on Senator Kirk’s condition Friday morning.</p><p><strong>"</strong>Senator Kirk is doing quite well this morning. He is alert, responding more rapidly to questions and the swelling in his brain has stabilized. While he remains in serious but stable condition, we are pleased with his continued progress."</p></p> Fri, 27 Jan 2012 17:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/doctor-says-sen-mark-kirk-making-progress-95895 Kirk, Quigley want FBI investigation into Project Shield http://www.wbez.org/story/kirk-quigley-want-fbi-investigation-project-shield-95394 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-09/Kirk and Quigley.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Project Shield was intended to be a sophisticated system of video cameras in squad cars and key spots around the suburbs. It was to help with homeland security - transmitting live footage to police during emergency situations. The program was run by Cook County under former Board Presidents John Stroger and Todd Stroger.</p><p>But a new report out Monday by the U.S. Inspector General shows Project Shield was a mismanaged mess. Camera equipment didn't get delivered, and even when it did, it oftentimes didn't even work. The cameras and related equipment for police cars were <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/suburban-police-security-project-shield-failed-all-accounts-88600">revealed to pose safety risks</a>, too, as they were installed in front of airbags - making the technology a potential projectile.</p><p>The $45 million dollars funding the program came from FEMA. In a news conference Monday, U.S. Republican Sen. Mark Kirk says Cook County couldn't have screwed up Project Shield any further if it tried to.</p><p>"So it does appear to be gross incompetence, waste and potential criminal activity was at the heart of this program," Kirk said.</p><p>Kirk was joined at the news conference by U.S. Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley, and both called for a FBI investigation into the program. As to why Kirk and Quigley suspect criminal conduct and not just mismanagement, Kirk said, "168 change orders all adding to cost, and yet the I.G. could find no documentation for that. So money was paid to contractors and sub-contractors for additional work and yet we have no idea what they did or how it was accounted for."</p><p>The Inspector General report also found 18% of the decommissioned equipment went missing. Quigley added the failed program essentially put citizens at risk by wasting money that should have gone to security.&nbsp;</p><p>"If you waste money that could build roads, that's bad. There's no apologies that can make up for that. But here, when you waste homeland security money, you are less safe," Quigley said.</p><p>Quigley lamented missed opportunities for the project's $45 million price tag. He said that money could have gone to hiring police officers or making airports safer.</p><p>Quigley was a Cook County commissioner in 2004 when Project Shield got underway. He called for federal investigations into Project Shield in 2009 and was supported shortly thereafter by then Representative and now-Senator Mark Kirk.</p><p>Current Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle shut down the program this summer because she said it was a failure on all accounts. In a statement released Monday, Preckwinkle said, "I am very pleased that the Inspector General not only identified those same issues, but concurs with and supports the new direction of the Department."</p></p> Mon, 09 Jan 2012 15:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/kirk-quigley-want-fbi-investigation-project-shield-95394 Illinois' senators want tougher sanctions on Iran http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-senators-want-tougher-sanctions-iran-94559 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-02/AP Photo Paul Beaty.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is pushing for stronger sanctions against Iran. A <a href="http://kirk-press.enews.senate.gov/mail/util.cfm?gpiv=2100081011.42.5&amp;gen=1">bill unanimously passed the U.S. Senate this Thursday</a> aiming to shut down the central bank of Iran.</p><p>Kirk said sanctions will help deny Iran the resources it needs for nuclear weapons and send a message about its poor track record on human rights.</p><p>"And my hope is that between sanctions and working with the dissident community we can bring about a new policy there," Kirk said.</p><p>Kirk is defending members of the Baha'i Faith who are being imprisoned in Iran and denied education.</p><p>"The Iranians are not only proliferating nuclear weapons and backing up Syria's Assad dictatorship, they're oppressing 330,000 Baha'is in their country - forcing them all out of university, denying any government contract with any Baha'i business," Kirk said.&nbsp;</p><p>Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin joined Kirk in voting for tougher sanctions. He said he thinks earlier sanctions the U.S. has placed on Iran are already working.</p><p>"I think it's having some impact," Durbin said. "When the Iranian government turned loose the demonstrators on the British embassy this week, it was a signal to me that our sanctions are starting to be felt in Tehran and around that country."</p><p>On Tuesday, Iranian protesters stormed the U.K. embassy compounds in Tehran. In retaliation, Britain has ordered Iranian diplomats off its soil, pulled its diplomats out of Iran, and backed new sanctions on the Islamic republic.</p><p>The U.S. sanctions amendment still needs approval from a joint legislative conference made up of House and Senate members.</p></p> Sat, 03 Dec 2011 12:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-senators-want-tougher-sanctions-iran-94559 Kirk and Durbin in favor of Supreme Court deciding health law http://www.wbez.org/story/kirk-and-durbin-favor-supreme-court-deciding-health-law-94048 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//healthbill.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The U.S. Supreme Court may soon decide if it's constitutional to make Americans buy health insurance. Illinois' two U.S. Senators are both in favor of the Court taking up the issue, but for different reasons.</p><p>Republican Sen. Mark Kirk thinks President Obama's controversial health care bill should be overturned.</p><p>"In a limited government which defends our rights, I do not believe the federal government has the power to force you to buy anything, especially from a government-controlled entity," Kirk said in a press conference on Monday.</p><p>Kirk said he expects the decision to be five judges on one side, four on the other, but he isn't sure which way it'll go.</p><p>Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said he's glad the high court will rule, because messy state court battles can hopefully be avoided.</p><p>"I think it is part of individual responsibility in this country that you have health insurance so there is protection for you, your family and for the rest of us," Durbin said.</p><p>The Supreme Court is scheduled to begin hearing arguments in March and a ruling is expected by late June.<br> <br> &nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 15 Nov 2011 13:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/kirk-and-durbin-favor-supreme-court-deciding-health-law-94048 Kirk and Durbin call for allergy meds in every school http://www.wbez.org/story/kirk-and-durbin-call-allergy-meds-every-school-94032 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-14/Kirk Durbin Epipen presser.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois' two U.S. senators are proposing federal legislation to protect students with severe allergies.</p><p>Earlier this year, the state of Illinois passed a law allowing school nurses to give epinephrine, or an epi-pen, to any student having an allergic attack. The drug quickly reduces symptoms in severe allergic reactions.</p><p>Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said the proposed law would apply nation-wide, and give any authorized adult the right to give medication.</p><p>"If we have a good samaritan law, no one will hesitate because of liability concerns to deliver the epi-pen," Kirk said.</p><p>Chicago doctors at Children's Memorial Hospital said at Monday's press conference that mistakenly giving an epi-pen to a child without allergies isn't dangerous, and for the one in 25 kids with severe food allergies, it can save their life.</p><p>As for who will pay for the medication, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said, "My guess is PTA's will have no problem with a little bake sale to pay for them if necessary."</p><p>Kirk and Durbin said they'll introduce the legislation in the Senate this week and they expect it to have wide bi-partisan support.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 14 Nov 2011 18:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/kirk-and-durbin-call-allergy-meds-every-school-94032 New escape routes for Lake Shore Drive http://www.wbez.org/story/new-escape-routes-lake-shore-drive-93621 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-31/AP Photo Kiichiro Sato_ Charles Rex Arbogast.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Road crews begin work Monday on Lake Shore Drive to make it easier for cars to avoid getting stuck during a blizzard. City workers will begin building two turnaround points after rush hour.</p><p>Both escape routes are on the near North Side - one will be at Armitage; the other at Schiller. Chicago Department of Transportation officials say those spots were chosen because they're prone to snow drifts.</p><p>They will create turnaround access to north and southbound lanes during emergency situations, like last February's 20 inches of snow blizzard. Drivers and vehicles were stranded on the Drive for hours.</p><p>Three lanes in both directions will remain open around the construction zone. The new turnarounds are expected to be completed by late November.<br> <br> &nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 31 Oct 2011 12:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/new-escape-routes-lake-shore-drive-93621 Illinois' senators want to advance aspects of jobs bill http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-senators-want-advance-aspects-jobs-bill-93202 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-17/Obama AP Susan Walsh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois' two U.S. senators want to advance parts of President Barack Obama's rejected jobs bill.</p><p>U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., is in favor of some tax provisions in the original bill.</p><p>"On the payroll tax deduction plan - I think that's solid, well supported on the house and senate side," Kirk said during an unrelated news conference on Monday.</p><p>Meantime U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., also agreed with the payroll tax cut, and added he's in favor of modernizing schools.</p><p>"If we work it through, item by item, we may have a better chance," Durbin said. "Incidentally most of the President's proposals were originally Republican ideas - so they're familiar with what we're trying to do."</p><p>Durbin estimated that advancing aspects of the jobs bill will begin in a couple of weeks.</p><p>Meantime Senate Republicans are coming up with their own jobs bill. It includes reforming tax codes, American offshore oil and gas exploration and a repeal of President Obama's overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system.<br> <br> &nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 17 Oct 2011 18:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-senators-want-advance-aspects-jobs-bill-93202 Quinn: Kirk's report exaggerates state's debt http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-kirks-report-exaggerates-states-debt-93092 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-13/quinn big.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn said Wednesday that a recent report exaggerates the state's debt.</p><p>U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., released the report saying the state has $8.3 billion worth of unpaid bills. But the state comptroller said the number is more like $5.1 billion.</p><p>Quinn said the state is making progress in cutting its unpaid bills.</p><p>"I think (Kirk) probably exaggerated some of the numbers. We have whittled down the bills we have to pay, we still have a long way to go. You know if it's just woe is me and a doomsayer - I don't think that's particularly helpful," Quinn told reporters Wednesday at an unrelated news conference.</p><p>Quinn said creating jobs is the key to improving Illinois' debt standing.</p></p> Wed, 12 Oct 2011 16:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-kirks-report-exaggerates-states-debt-93092